Meet Michel Léger, EVP Innovation at Ingenico Group. Having 25 years of international experience in electronic payments under his belt, Léger is responsible for leading overall innovation, including long-term emerging payments initiatives, for Ingenico. What’s it like to be in his C-suite shoes? To kickoff PYMNTS.com’s new Commander In Chief Series, we spoke with Léger to get a quick glimpse into his mind and find out what advice he’d give other leaders looking to take on such a complex, dynamic industry.
Q: What does a day in the life of a Chief Innovation Officer look like?
A: No two days are ever the same but I usually divide my time between market watch, project management, and cultivating our networks and partnerships. I listen to the market, meet with my teams, brainstorm on new ideas, dive into conversations swirling around the Next Big Thing, share and collect insights, take it all in and find direction… but I also keep focus on ongoing projects and stay close to our clients and partners.
I am a long-term-focused entrepreneur with an explorer’s heart and my days always leave me feeling energized. It is exciting to always be working on the next game-changer in each of our markets, and more importantly to make it a reality for our customers around the world.
[pullquote] Payments affects all areas of our lives and there is potential to integrate it into even more innovative products and services, across all dimensions, in-store, online and mobile. [/pullquote]
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
A: I believe that innovation finds its source in constraints. Whether they are budget-related or owed to a lack of time, constraints are an amazing source of power and help us to actively integrate new ways of thinking into our work.
The most challenging part of my job is making the time to explore all the areas of innovation. Payments affects all areas of our lives and there is potential to integrate it into even more innovative products and services, across all dimensions, in-store, online and mobile. The tough part is deciding which ones will provide the biggest impact for our customers.
Q: What does innovation mean to you?
A: Innovating is not about having “the” idea. Anyone can have ideas and see the forest for the trees. True innovation is about creating value. Incorporating forward-thinking into a company’s DNA means that you must offer the right value proposition at the right time.
The payments industry is changing every minute, every second. There is not one single market we are in that is static. We are in 170 countries, and that global footprint nurtures and enriches our capacity to innovate. The more sensors we have, the more inspired we get. To innovate and seize new growth opportunities, we must first listen to our sensors and capture trends. Then we can decide on projects that will be in line with the company’s strategy, and execute them.
Q: How do you combine business and creativity?
A: In early 2015, Ingenico Group created Ingenico Labs to support its transformation and bring fresh business thinking to the company. Ingenico Labs has been key to sparking innovation. We work hand in hand with all business units across the Group and act as a facilitator. We focus on initiatives beyond the terminal and work on next-generation technologies.
Ingenico Labs is a place where we can evaluate ideas without worrying about short-term gain – instead, we look for long-term impact and new ways to provide creative and competitive solutions to our clients.
Q: Is there a secret to staying ahead of the curve and being successful?
A: There is no secret. Our pledge is to provide best-in-class payment products and services whatever the channel, and to do so we must venture outside our comfort zones and challenge conventional business models. We must observe and learn, think differently, and then connect the dots. Mobile technology has revolutionized merchant-consumer relations; the Internet of Things will likely have the same effect. We need to prepare for the future and meet the expectations of a new generation of consumers.
[pullquote] This alliance will most certainly pave the way to a broader set of initiatives to address other devices for the Internet of Things… [/pullquote]
Q: Any recent success stories you would like to share with us?
A: Yes, of course. Two of the projects that I am most proud of recently came out of the Ingenico Labs: We integrated a first-of-its-kind payment acceptance pilot solution into digital advertising screens, enabling passersby to make a donation by simply flashing their payment card in front of the screens. This solution was specifically designed for the Curie Institute’s campaign against cancer but can now be deployed around the world.
We also recently announced our collaboration with Intel Corporation to combine Intel technology and Ingenico Group secure payment acceptance for the Internet of Things. We are jointly developing an innovative mobile tablet that supports EMV and NFC payment functionalities. This alliance will most certainly pave the way to a broader set of initiatives to address other devices for the Internet of Things, including intelligent vending machines, kiosks and digital signage.
EVP Innovation, Ingenico Group
Michel has over 25 years of international experience in electronic payments.
Michel Léger was appointed EVP Innovation in January 2015. In this role, he is responsible for leading overall innovation for Ingenico Group across divisions, including running the company’s Innovation Lab, which is focused on longer-term initiatives such as emerging payments and the integration of payments technology into connected devices.
Michel joined the Group in 2010 to take over management of the company’s EMEA segment and became EVP Marketing & Global Sales in 2013. He began his career with Schlumberger in 1985 where he was in charge of sales and marketing for the North American market. Previously, he was General Manager of the Payment Terminal Division for Axalto (ex Schlumberger) and held a similar position at Gemalto, where he helped develop Gemalto’s e-payment market on a global scale.